Columbia University Medical Center

Two Columbia Professors Receive Kavli Prizes In Norway Ceremony

Oslo, Norway (Sept. 9, 2008) – Two Columbia researchers, Thomas Jessell, Ph.D., and Louis E. Brus, Ph.D., were honored today for their contributions to neuroscience and nanoscience as two of this year’s seven inaugural winners of the Kavli Prize, an award bestowed by The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters and the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research. In today’s ceremony at Oslo Concert Hall, the seven researchers in the fields of astrophysics, nanoscience and neuroscience who were honored as the first Kavli Prize laureates, received a gold medal and scroll from His Royal Highness Crown Prince of Norway Haakon Magnus.

For discoveries on the developmental and functional logic of neuronal circuits, the Kavli Prize in Neuroscience was awarded to Thomas Jessell, Claire Tow Professor in Neuroscience and Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics at the Center for Neurobiology and Behavior at Columbia University Medical Center. Jessell shares the award with Pasko Rakic (Yale) and Sten Grillner (The Karolinska Institute, Sweden).

Columbia researcher Louis E. Brus is the Samuel Latham Mitchell Professor of Chemistry and professor of chemical engineering in the Department of Chemistry at Columbia. Brus shares the nanoscience award with physicist Sumio Iijima (Meijo University, Japan).

The seven winners, who hail from the United Kingdom, Sweden, the Netherlands, Japan, and the United States, share the $1,000,000 prize awarded under each category in addition to receiving the scroll and medal.

Joining His Royal Highness were representatives of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, the Ministry of Research of Research and Higher Education, and The Kavli Foundation, as well as the chairs of the Kavli Prize committees. Speaking before an international audience that included noted researchers and science leaders, Fred Kavli, founder of the Kavli Prize and The Kavli Foundation said, “We are here today to honor and celebrate our scientists – our prize winners – for their work and their contribution to humanity’s splendid journey. Let these prizes be a token of thanks and gratitude for moving us along the path of greater understanding of the human being, nature, and the universe.”

Pasko Rakic, M.D., Ph.D., Fred Kavli, Sten Grillner, M.D., Ph.D., and Thomas Jessell, Ph.D., show their Kavli Prize medals awarded Sept. 9 in Oslo, Norway.
Ole Didrik Laerum, president of the Academy, also expressed “congratulations, but also deep thanks” to the laureates for their achievements in each of their fields. Minister of Research Tora Aasland noted the laureates — from three different continents – reflected the international nature of research.

Asked what the laureates shared in the common, in a press conference, Kavli Prize laureate Pasko Pavic noted, “I believe we share a desire to understand ourselves and our universe.”

The 2008 Kavli laureates are:

Astrophysics: Maarten Schmidt, California Institute of Technology, USA, and Donald Lynden-Bell, University of Cambridge.

Nanoscience: Louis E. Brus, Columbia University, USA, and Sumio Iijima, Meijo University, Japan.,

Neuroscience: Rasko Rakic, Yale University, USA, Thomas Jessell, Columbia University, USA, and Sten Grillner, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden.

The Kavli Prizes recognize scientists for their seminal advances in three research areas: astrophysics, nanoscience and neuroscience and are awarded every two years. The Kavli Prizes are presented in cooperation with the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research, and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
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